Game-related ramblings.

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Some Witcher 3 Nitpicking

As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

At long last, I have finished The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Although I still have two DLC story packs to play through, so I’m actually very much not finished. But I’ve done the main story, and I was waiting for that to conclude before posting about the game again. I’ve already written about how good it is, and celebrated its variety of faces, but now that I’ve spent more time with the game, I’ve found a few problems. It’s time for some complaining.

The first thing I want to complain about is the writing, which is a weird thing to say. On the one hand, the writing is really good: the quests in The Witcher 3 are so much more interesting than those in other role-playing games, each a little story with its own twists and surprising details. The game was rightfully lauded for this. But at the same time, a lot of the writing in the game feels like bad Witcher fan fiction.

Celebrating The Many Faces Of The Witcher 3

As always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

As I continue to play through The Witcher 3, I’ve found myself surprisingly interested in characters’ faces. At first, I wasn’t sure why. They are noticeably less detailed than faces from more recent games, so it’s not because of graphical fidelity. But each seemed eminently memorable, and somehow I never seemed to see the same face twice. Where the hordes of non-player characters in most games quickly become a haze of similar looking people, often with the exact same faces appearing again and again, The Witcher 3’s distinctive cast is an impressive accomplishment. I soon realized the game’s secret. Most games include characters that adhere to a standard of bland attractiveness, probably inherited from films where everyone is good looking because they’re all actors. But The Witcher 3 is not afraid to make its characters ugly.

Starting The Witcher 3: The Trepidation

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Back in 2015, I played The Witcher 2 for the second time, to get ready for the then-imminent Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Having played the series from the beginning and enjoyed its excellent sense of character, I was excited to play the hotly anticipated third entry, which earned accolades on release. I was even reading the novels upon which the games are based as I replayed The Witcher 2, so I’d have the full background I needed going in to the third installment. Unfortunately, when the time came to fire up The Witcher 3, my aging computer could barely run it. I decided to hold off until I could build a new one.

But I didn’t actually build a new computer until four years later. And even then, I didn’t fire up The Witcher 3 right away, continually putting it off for one reason or another. Only now, after another two years have passed — and after reading the novels again, to be sure I had them fresh in my memory — have I finally started playing The Witcher 3. Why did it take me so long? For all my excuses at the time, the real reason is that I had The Trepidation.

Return To The Witcher 2 Successful

As always, you can click on images to view larger versions. Also, if you are considering playing The Witcher 2, I recommend the original Polish voices with subtitles. They’re just better.

After my first post chronicling my return to the Witcher 2, I imagined I’d have two more, one for each of the two remaining Chapters in the game. But after I finished Chapter 2 I just kept on going, and I’ve now finished the game. Now that I’ve seen both sides of the story, I can write my thoughts on the game as a whole.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Witcher games, you should read my posts about the first game before reading this. And, of course, you should read my earlier post discussing my thoughts on the Prologue and first Chapter of The Witcher 2.

Returning To The Witcher 2

As always, you can click on images to view larger versions. Also, if you are considering playing The Witcher 2, please use the original Polish voices with English (or other appropriate language) subtitles. They are, in my humble opinion, much better than the English voices.

Over the summer, I wrote a bunch of posts about the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. I decided to play them before for my long-delayed second playthrough of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. This was all in preparation for the imminent release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which was originally slated for February. I thought if I played the bonus Adventures over the summer, then I’d have time to get through The Witcher 2 in the fall, and still manage a short break before The Witcher 3 came out. Silly me. Naturally I’ve only had time to get through the first third of The Witcher 2, and February is almost upon us. Fortunately (for me), the Witcher 3 has been pushed back to May, so there’s a chance I’ll actually get through it before the third installment arrives.

Readers unfamiliar with the Witcher series should read my posts about the Adventures first, as they contain copious ruminations on the first game in the series (including an introduction). Returning to the second game now, I am struck by the differences between the two, both good and bad.

The Witcher Adventures: Merry Witchmas

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

Well, this is it: the last Adventure included with The Witcher. To be honest, it took much longer to play and write about these than I expected. But they offered a great opportunity to write extensively about a very interesting game, and I was often impressed with what the fan community had created.

The final Adventure is called Merry Witchmas, and is also by Ifrit, the group responsible for The Wedding. After playing The Wedding I didn’t have very high hopes for this one, but it’s actually much better. Merry Witchmas takes us once again to Vizima’s Temple Quarter, but this time snow is falling as winter approaches. Geralt wants to make a little more money before retiring to Kaer Morhen for the winter, but gets more than he bargained for when he discovers it’s up to him to save (or destroy) the Witchmas holiday.

The Witcher Adventures: The Wedding

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

The next Adventure on the list is The Wedding, which was made by an entire team of modders known as Ifrit. The Wedding sets itself apart from the other adventures by having no combat whatsoever. In fact, it doesn’t have any of the myriad game mechanics showcased in the earlier Adventure Deceits, except for a few fistfights. It’s focused solely on conversations, aiming for a silly comedic tone.

Unfortunately, The Wedding also sets itself apart from the other Adventures by being terrible.

The Witcher Adventures: The Wraiths Of Quiet Hamlet

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

The next adventure on the list, The Wraiths of Quiet Hamlet, is by Krzysztof Wiśniowski and his brothers Adam and Jacek, and it earned an honorable mention in D’Jinni Adventure Editor Contest. Like the winner of that contest, Deceits, it repurposes the riverside village location from Chapter IV of the main game, and like Deceits it tells a tale of Geralt arriving in a small village and solving the locals’ problems. So I was surprised at just how different of an experience it is, by virtue of both its writing and its design.

The Witcher Adventures: Deceits

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

I’ve finished with the Adventures made by original developers CD Projekt RED. The next Adventure on the list, Deceits, is by Rafał “Magun” Bielicki, and was the winner of the D’Jinni Adventure Editor Contest. It came packaged with the 2011 v1.5 patch for the main game, and it’s pretty much what I envisioned before I started playing these Adventures: a short tale in which Geralt arrives in a village, offers to solve the villagers’ monster-related problems, and uncovers a few dark secrets along the way.

The Witcher Adventures: Side Effects

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

After The Price of Neutrality, the next Adventure on the list is Side Effects, also by original developers CD Projekt RED. It was released in 2008 along with the Enhanced Edition of the base game. Like The Price of Neutrality, Side Effects is fully voiced (and again, please use the original Polish voices) and is on par with the main game in terms of production quality. Unlike The Price of Neutrality, Side Effects is not focused on narrative, instead reveling in the pure mechanics of the game.

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